Friday, April 18, 2008
Medical Reports: Gastric Bypass
More than 177,000 Americans underwent weight loss surgery in 2006. While it can help patients drop the pounds, the surgery doesn't come without risks. On today's Healthcast, Seven's Christine Cruz shows us how a new approach is helping patients shed pounds in a safer way.
WSVN -- Losing weight never came easy for Garth Michaels.
Garth Michaels: "I've felt fat all my life, really."
He tipped the scales at 320 pounds.
Garth Michaels: "I really was just up against a wall. I was praying daily. I didn't know where to turn."
His prayers were answered when he found Dr. Robert Lustig.
Dr. Robert Lustig: "Everyone in the world seems to think that obesity is just one problem, you know, you eat too much, exercise too little, and it couldn't be further from the truth."
Lustig says the vagus nerve, which tells the brain when the body's full, plays a big part in obesity.
Dr. Robert Lustig: "Every single thing the vagus nerve does is designed to get energy into your fat cells."
He's currently testing a stress-free surgery called a laparoscopic vagotomy, where he actually cuts the nerve in order to curb the patient's hunger.
Dr. Robert Lustig: "The severe hunger that many obese patients report seems to be just completely obliviated. It goes away completely."
An early study shows the 20-minute procedure typically led to the loss of 18 percent of a patient's excess weight, and it doesn't have the high risks of traditional weight loss surgeries.
Dr. Robert Lustig: "The weight loss that the patients have achieved appears to be durable, and we're very happy about that."
Garth has lost more than 100 pounds since having the procedure nearly two years ago.
Garth Michaels: "Definitely life-saving. I think I added at least 10 to 20 years to my life. It's a whole new life -- a whole new lease on life and at age 56, that's pretty good."
And after a lifetime of big clothes, Garth is proud to finally shed that extra baggage.
Not only does the procedure have fewer side effects than gastric bypass, but it's cheaper, too. Bypass costs between $25,000 and $50,000, while this new procedure would cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Phyllis Brown, Public Relations
University of California, San Francisco